Sunday, December 27, 2015

2016 GOALS

1.  I will do another year of the compact:  buy used, reduce my carbon footprint, and save money while being environmentally friendly.

2. I will work on losing ten pounds:  the five that attached themselves while my walking was limited and the other five that has bee in residence much too long.
3. Out of curiosity, I will keep track of the money saved by buying reduced cost items.
I will not be counting things like the blazer I bought for $4.50 that still had the tags on it for $69  but I will be counting things like the shoes that were priced $ 9 and because they were pink tagged I got them half off for $4.50; the $5.81 I saved on white and yellow tagged items, etc.  I will also be keeping track of the savings on reduced to clear grocery items, etc.  For example, I recently took advantage of clearance deals at Approved Foods and saved an additional $30 off their usual low prices.  I also, thanks to a heads up from a blog I read, got a $5 gift card for free when we bought a $10 gift card for Starbucks.  Gasoline points earned at the grocery store that ended up giving us 20 cents off per gallon and saved us $2.67 on our fill up will also be counted.
The $10 we saved by driving about thirty minutes more, although we stayed in the same chain of hotels, would also be counted.  Such things are so easy but just these few items that I gave as examples above saved $57.98 extra in just a few days.  It will be interesting to see what a year of such savings adds up to.

4. I will try to walk 10,000 steps a day or 70,000 per week. This will let me see what my new knees are up to and help lose that weight I mentioned earlier.

5.  I will continue to try to make homemade gifts for gift giving occasions.  I love the feeling of giving things I took the time to make and to put my love into.

6. I will work on reducing my caffeine and salt consumption and stop eating anything with artificial sweeteners or carbonation.  Can we say osteopenia?

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Loves all things star wars.

Has a vivid imagination.

Takes being a big brother very seriously.

Won't admit he might need a nap but will take a quiet time.

Has a sweet tooth.

Likes to tease.

Sometimes is shy.

Can write his and his sister's names.

Is learning some sight words.

Loves Friday because it is vending machine day and for a quarter and a piece of cash money (his words) he can buy pretzels for snack.

Only likes shirts with pictures on them.

Has a favorite and oft used phrase:  "Oh brother! (Sigh)"

Makes you smile even if you've had a bad day.

What more could we ask for in a dearly loved grandson.


My beloved granddaughter is a real charmer with an infectious grin and laugh.  Our recent visit provided so much joy.

  As one of her t-shirts says:  She be little but she be fierce.

If asked "Is that for you Emma?"  She willrespond "That's for me, Emma."

When she falls she usually quickly responds with "I'm all right."

She :

         is often seen dragging a footstool around so that she can climb up to play the different Hallmark musical figures.  She loves music.

         loves to put her baby to bed in her doll bed and finishes the process by saying "Good night, sleep tight, don't let bed bugs bite."

          dances a jig when excited.  And she is often excited.

          can shatter windows with her voice when frustrated.

          loves to frost sugar cookies and help mommy in the kitchen.

          loves her grandpa and knows she has him wrapped around her little finger.

          loves to constantly take her socks off.

          takes her job of helping to feed the dog very seriously.

           will repeat whatever you say.

          dislikes cauliflower or broccoli but does like carrots and bread with butter.

          has a smile to melt your heart and a devilish twinkle in her eye.

          will not even consider the possibility she cannot do something once she has set her heart on doing it.  Emma do!

          never walks if she can run.

          knows that she is 2, that her brother is 4, and that her daddy is 42.   However, if asked she will tell you that her mommy is also 2.

          always wants to (fill in the blank) just like John.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Blessed and Merry Christmas

                    EMMANUEL.                   Peace.                      Joy.               Noel

                     Angel.                                     Bethlehem.                   Shepherd          Maji

Mary.               Rejoice.                 Manger.                  Star.                     Exaltation

Gifts.                                      Mercy.                                      Holy.                          Myrrh

               Gold.                             Frankincense                               Wonder

Savior                                                   Divine.                                           CHRIST

I hope all of you have a Christmas full of the things that make Christmas SO special.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Getting Into The Spirit Of The Season

At Christmas we celebrate receiving God's greatest gift:  his son who is the light of the world.

In keeping with the spirit of the season, I love to decorate with white lights and candles in the windows signifying our welcome to any and all just as we welcome the birth of Jesus.

I also enjoy the giving of gifts to family, both biological and those of the heart.

But I also tremendously enjoy giving to those less fortunate. How better to express the the season? This year I crocheted almost twenty hats, scarves and cowls designed to help others stay warm and to remember that even in today's world people care and they are not alone.

I also love to listen to the carols and watch the classic movies of the season.  They fill my heart with joy, love and peace.

Let us all pray that these emotions enter the hearts of everyone and remain throughout the year.

Wouldn't that be the perfect gift for all?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Observations on Trees

We were on the road this weekend traveling to and from New York state for Mike's family Christmas party.  When I wasn't crocheting I had fun observing the now leafless trees.

Some of them are so beautifully balanced and look like majestic kings or queens of the forest.

Some, usually due to the intervention of man, are anything but symmetrical with one side butchered of its beauty to allow power or phone lines ease of passage.

Others have become gracefully intertwined with their neighbors. One for all against whatever nature has to throw at them.

Then there are the ones that grow straight and true towards the heavens above.

But, let us not forget the older arthritic trees that have withstood the ravages of time and still stand proudly awaiting whatever else life has in store for them.

All have their beauty and a lesson we can learn if only we take the time to do so.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Week Eleven


This was the week of the cold.  I sneezed and coughed my way through the days.  I created snow banks of tissues.  And when I spoke my voice was so deep and throaty I sounded like a bad impersonation of Lauren Bacall.

Consequently, I ended up missing two days of therapy. There goes my perfect attendance pin.  Drat.

On the plus side, I crocheted several hats, cowel neck warmers, hats and scarves to be donated to make this Christmas warmer for others.  It also helps to make my Christmas brighter.

Our little cottage is quite Christmassy with lights, candles, a small tree, and two hastily made stockings to hang. Because it just wouldn't be Christmas otherwise.

I am doing therapy five days this week to make up for last week so it is off to therapy I go.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

130 Degrees!!!

My physical therapist measured how well my knees bend today and I am at 130degrees!!!  I am pumped.

Last week a friend and I went to a performance of the local youth theater, I baked holiday breads and pies with friends, I made fudge and holiday breads by myself and did some more crocheting.  A good week.

Tomorrow Mike and I will enjoy Thanksgiving with friends. And I remember when our foreign exchange student from Thailand described Thanksgiving as a holiday built around the idea of overeating. LOL!

I hope your Thanksgiving brings you feelings of gratitude and love of family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oops and an Update at Week Nine

I don't know how, but I forgot to tell you that I have been walking without a cane since week six.  I found myself constantly walking away from it without thinking.  The obvious conclusion was that I no longer felt I needed it.  So, I hung the cane up and haven't used it since.

I also graduated to using five pound weights when doing my pool therapy.  It made my legs very tired when I first started but got easier with time, as most things do.  In fact, the therapist thought it had gotten so easy that I have been kicked out of the pool and will once again do all of my therapy on land.  As the therapist said, now the torture begins.  She was just kidding, I hope.

I am now riding the stationary bike as part of the therapy to get the knees to bend and to build us strength and stamina.  I ride it at therapy and on the days I don't go there Mike and I go into Gannon and I ride one of their stationary bikes.  I am up to 20 minutes at a time and I try to add 5 minutes every week.

I tried to use the Gannon pool for doing some of my exercises but the water was just too cold.  It turned the scars blue and made the knees ache, a good sign it was not for me.  So, we moved on to plan B and I now walk the track.  I have made 7 times around and hope to make 10 soon.

For "occupational therapy" I have been making ricotta, Italian sausage, crepes, brownies, cookies and apple butter.  I have also cooked down a pumpkin in preparation for making pies and pumpkin bread. I really love this type of "therapy" and so does Mike.

Of course, I have been crocheting and enjoying the Starbucks seasonal coffees.  Life is good.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week Seven

Today we hit week seven post op. And here is where I am:

  • I can now get into and out of the car without having to slide or scoot
  • I can stand up from the side of the bed and look mom, no hands needed to push off
  • I can sit in a chair for an hour without squirming because it hurts to have my knees bent that long
  • I can ride in a car for an hour at a time
  • I can sleep on my tummy, the room is much quieter now
  • I went salvage shopping with a friend and then out to lunch
  • I rode an hour and took a friend out to lunch for her birthday
  • I am learning to balance on one foot, something I haven't been able to do for decades
  • I had a good checkup with the surgeon
  • I have started putting vitamin E on my scars to try and minimize them, no I'm not at all vain

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What a Difference a Week Makes

Currently on our fridge we are displaying some art from two budding artists and a fun card from these same individuals: DGS and DGD. They make this recuperating grandma quite happy.

I have now moved on from the walker to a single point cane. That feels like a huge leap to me. Walking independently can't be terribly far off, can it?

Speaking of walking, my stride is lengthening and my peg leg is bending more.  And, I have almost stopped swinging my leg from the hip. Twenty years of bad muscle memory is hard to unlearn.

I am also doing water therapy now and I love it! I can do things in the water that I could never do on land. I can even do deep knee bends.  I can't remember the last time I could do those.

Oh, one of my not so favorite things, getting into and out of the car, is now much easier and less painful.  Score another one for our side.

It occurred to me one morning this week that what I in essence asked the doctor to do was cut my leg in half, mess around with it a lot and really tick it off and then sew it back together.  I have sometimes wondered if I was in my right mind when I volunteered for this.  But now I am beginning to believe I may not have been that crazy after all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

One Month Update

The squirrels and chipmunk are super busy darting around and foraging for food.They are cute to watch and put a smile on my face but the thought of the winter they are for telling makes me a little nervous. After all, the recent winters here have been brutal. Better search out all my woolies.

I am in outpatient therapy now and seeing slow but steady progress, although the swelling has flared up recently. BUT, all the steri strips are now off and that means I can start water therapy which is supposed to help. I am not looking forward to wearing my suit in public (I am not sure the world is ready) I am looking forward to some relief from the swelling.

This past Sunday I did manage to stand independently in the shower long enough to bathe and wash my hair. A gold star day! I have also been able to stand long enough to do the dishes.That put a smile on Mike's face. :-) And,to put a smile on my face, often when I am in the kitchen Shelia, the dog from next door sticks her nose up against the screen door to say hi and we commune with each other. I love it.

I have also found myself furniture walking in close spaces instead of moving the walker. And one time I realised I had even taken a step or two without support. All of this is without thinking, but something tells me a cane might be coming soon.

I have also had the pleasure of animated email cards, an honest to goodness letter, visits from good friends and even a lunch out with a friend. I was pleased to discover I could sit in a chair that long. And we only needed the small oil can and not the super sized one to get things moving again. :-)

I have been crocheting but as of now have nothing to show for it. I crocheted a pullover for myself twice and ripped it out both times. Ugh.
I then tried a shawl twice but didn't like either so they were ripped out. I am now working on a baby blanket but its future is also uncertain. Anyone see a pattern here?

My biggest news is that I have been fending for myself for the last three days!  Mike is on an accreditation visit to a small college in Ohio. I have had to take care of myself and the cottage and feel proud that I could do so. Meals have been basic and I did have to rely on the kindness of a good friend to get me to therapy but I did it! Mike will be back in just a few hours.

Well, that's my excitement filled life. Hop you all are doing well. Till next time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Slowing the Pace to go the Distance

Today I am three weeks post surgery.  And here is where I currently am.

  • the swelling has lessened but isn't all the way gone
  • I'm no longer on the sustained release pain med and coping well with just the every four hour pain med
  • sometimes at night I can stretch the med to more than four hours
  • getting up and down is much less painful
  • although still not a favorite, getting into and out of the car is progressing closer to the no problem zone
  • sitting in a chair for any period of time is still not something I am a fan of doing
  • I can now change my scenery by reclining on the couch and I don't need a crane to get off said couch
  • my walker (frame) has graduated to wheels in the front 
  • as part of what I consider OT, I cooked minestrone, smashed potatoes, banana bread, sauerkraut and apple with leftover pork and roasted a chicken
  • I have started to crochet again, but only simple things like a pillow for the cottage we are in
  • My former bad knee, which needed a lot more work to make right, now bends to 98 degrees and my less bad knee bends to 102 degrees and both straighten completely to zero degrees
  • I am "marching" and focusing on each step starting on my heel and rolling off my toes to work on normalizing my gait
  • I have taken over 1000 steps in a day which is small by normal standards but good by bilateral standards
  • I have figured out how to sleep on my side and give my back a break
  • Oh, my seven minute trip from bedroom to bathroom has been cut in half,yeah!
  • and tomorrow I will begin my 12 weeks of out patient therapy
We are getting closer to where we need to be. I just need to stay the course.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sprinting a Marathon

Today my PT therapist came to the cottage and I was struck by how much she reminds me of one of my nieces. She looks, talks, laughs and seems as sweet. The result is that I feel motivated to give her my very best. Wonderful.

I am now working on learning how to do squats and kicks. I never did them with my God given knees but it seems I will be with my new ones. Who would have thunk?

It also seems I am about to graduate from chairs with arms to include those without. This is much earlier than I had expected and frankly makes me nervous but I am hoping to be up to the challenge.

I am getting back into the household routine by starting to be responsible for the laundry again. I never thought I would say this but it feels good. I consider it to be a form of OT.

Another OT thing I intend to do tomorrow is make a birthday cookie for a friend.  Baking is a wonderful form of OT as far as I am concerned.  Therapy you can eat.

Tomorrow is also the day I get my stitches out.  I cannot believe things are moving along so fast.  I am beginning to feel I am sprinting a marathon.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ten Days and Two Knees Later

I'm at the cottage we will be calling home for the next few months.

They removed my knees using tools that are close cousins to those available at Sears:  reciprocating saws, drills, hammers and epoxy. Modern medicine.

If you had assured me that I would be walking, getting into and out of bed and on and off bathroom facilities in ten days I would have assumed you were just trying to be nice. In fact, that is exactly what I did think. But they were right. For a woman who literally does not have a good leg to stand on, I get along fairly well.

Now, me and my bumps and bruises have to relearn how to walk in a manner that does not resemble Frankenstein. I also have to learn to walk and sit and get up without the support of modern pharmaceuticals. That looks to be a challenge.

I will keep you posted as to who is winning.

Monday, September 14, 2015

O Day!

Tomorrow is the day I get my new knees!

I am psyched and a little scared all at the same time.  After all, I have never been a bionic woman before. LOL

It will be a few days before you hear from me again but I will be back.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mickey and Minnie Were All Around

My darling little granddaughter had her second birthday party and her favorite characters were there all throughout her party, starting with her special Minnie party outfit.

My DD2 did a wonderful job making items supporting the party's theme:

  • Mickey lollipops using normal and mini Oreos  
  • Mickey Mouse garland
  • a Mickey wreath
  • Mickey silhouettes
  • Mickey shaped rice krispie treats
  • chocolate Min(n)i(e) cupcakes
  • and a gorgeous, looks like the cake boss made it, Mickey themed birthday cake
There was also a huge Mickey balloon for decoration as well as a Disney bounce castle parked in the driveway that provided So Much Fun and helped burn off some of that sugar induced energy. LOL

Each little guest received either a pair of Mickey ears or Minnie ears. 

Any child would have been enchanted. 
This grandma was enchanted.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Zero Waste Part Two

Now that we have bragged about what we do, let's get real about what we could do and what we won't do, even though we should.

What We Could and Probably Will Do In the Future:

Compost again:  we tried it on the boat but it was a no go even though I love the idea so we will do this again when we can
Make our own yogurt to save on packaging:  fridge space is a premium but I intend to find a way even though I can't make it a quart at a time anymore
Move from plastic storage containers to reusing glass containers we saved to reuse from things we have purchased
Eat more vegetarian meals so that so much grain does not need to be used to feed meat animals for human consumption
Learn to make more cheeses and not just ricotta to minimize packaging
Eat more fresh and seasonally available fruits and vegetables so that we can minimize our use of canned and frozen items and the packaging waste that come with them

What We Probably Won't Do, Even Though We Should

Stop flying in airplanes that consume so much fuel
Stop using Ziploc bags
Stop using shampoo with its packaging and go nopoo for our hair
Using family cloth that is washable rather than toilet paper
Get rid of plastic entirely, I just don't see how
Buying products that are only packaged in paper or glass because I am too cheap, really

There are probably more of everything but you get the idea.  Life is a learning experience so as we learn things will continue to be in flux and hopefully for the better for us and Mother Earth.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Zero Waste

The push for zero waste is a big topic in England right now. So I have been thinking about what we already do, what we could do without much of a problem, and what we should do but probably won't.  Today I will talk about some of the things we do to reduce waste.

What We Do:

We use cloth napkins and not paper
We don't use disposable dishes
We make our cleaning products and store them in containers that once held products like vinegar
We reuse plastic bags, aluminum foil, waxed paper cereal bags, and supposed one use plastic containers over and over again
We have reusable drink bottles
We have a filter pitcher for our water rather than buying bottled water
We reuse gift bags, tissue paper and wrapping paper
We purchase our clothes and household items from the used market so that energy and resources don't have to be used to make new items
I make my own kefir drink and store it in a reused milk container rather than buying it bottle by bottle
I cook from scratch rather than buying boxed items to reduce packaging waste
We turned off the stove and oven pilot lights to save gas and light them by hand to use them
We line dry our laundry to save energy
We use stale bread to make French toast, a strata for dinner, croutons, bread pudding, or bread crumbs rather than throwing it away
We make stock from bones, veg peelings, wilted veg, etc.
We make our own salad dressing and reuse the same bottle over and over to reduce packaging waste
When I use the oven I fill it to capacity so as to maximize the energy being used
I often cook with my pressure cooker to save time and energy
When buying fruits and vegetables I focus on one's with a long shelf life so they don't go bad before we can eat them

Even small changes make a difference.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


We are currently living in a hotel room with a small fridge and microwave. So I was quite pleased to find a deal on Papa John's pizza for 40 percent off a large pizza. It was only $10 and provide us with two dinners and a lunch.  Not bad.

I also found a gift item for 60 percent off saving me $15. Not too shabby.

On Saturday I went to a salvage grocery with a friend and got a huge amount of groceries at about two thirds off regular price.  Then on the way home we stopped at a bakery outlet and I found bagels, English muffins and multigrain bread for 89 cents per item.  Score! We now have a base of easier to cook food for Mike to make for himself while I am in the hospital.

I was in need of some more yarn to crochet with so Mike and I headed for Goodwill.  It was a great day for shopping.  It was 50 percent off senior citizen day.  I came home with 14 skeins and they cost me less than $9 !!!  Good times ahead.  My first project is a tea cozy for us.

Dinner  one evening was from Ruby Tuesday's.  We got $20 worth of food for $15 by using a coupon. I had hoped it would provide both a dinner and a lunch but it was too good.  Dinner only. Oh, well.

For our anniversary we had Chinese.  The leftover will provide another dinner or lunch.

Lots of little things that help balance the budget in these less than normal living conditions.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Leave of Absence

Tomorrow Mike and I will be leaving the boat at Anderton Marina for the next three to four months while we travel back to the states.  They will be repainting it during that time and we are looking forward to seeing her all bright and shiny when we get back.  I'll take pictures and post them when I can.

When we are back stateside I will be having a dual knee replacement on September 15th followed by a few months of therapy to get my pins under me again.  I am looking forward to the result if not to the actual process.  I must admit my knees have been a bit wobbly for a few years now.

When we come back I am eagerly anticipating some long walks along the tow path, something I have not been able to do for awhile now.  I have missed them.  It is wonderful the beautiful things of nature that can be found among the hedgerows.

I will be posting occasionally  while recuperating if anything even remotely interesting occurs.  But expect the blog to be back in full force in late December or early January.  Thanks for your understanding and patience.

Near the Anderton Boat Lift

The Anderton Lift is a marvel of boating on the British waterways. 

Abandoned and out of use from 1983 to 2002 (a Thatcher government fatality) it is once again lifting boats from the Trent and Mersey Canal to the Weaver Navigation or visa verso.

It is amazing to think that this ingenious lift dates from 1875!!! 

It was built to lift boats the 50 feet from the canal to the River  weaver below, saving the boats a much longer and meandering route via the canal only. 

The boats are moved using giant tanks of water and it is a sight to see, even if you are not going to use it.

Unfortunately for us, we will not be cruising on the River Weaver just now so a ride is not in the picture for now.  But coffee and a look was too much to pass up. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Colors and Completion

We have found someone to paint our boat and we have picked the colors!  They will make her look beautiful.  She will be mainly a creamy color with azure blue accents (to go with the a fore mentioned blue cratch and cockpit covers) with a grayish/brownish/greenish trim and roof color.  They will put the name on the bow and restore the outside cratch support to its beautiful teak color (it is now painted!!!)  It will look sooooo nice.   Yeah for the Emma John.

I have also finished my extra long shrug, including working in all the loose ends from color changes (a job I HATE).  It is by no means perfect but since it is for me I do not demand or expect perfection.  I am happy because it will be warm and cuddly and that appeals to me.  I made it two strand to make it warmer.  But, it allowed me to use up a lot of balls of different color yarns that I had gotten very cheaply and turn them into something useful.  If nothing else, it will be good with my jeans and jean skirts.

However, I did discover that sweaters purchased on the used market are cheaper than ones I can make using  thrift store yarn.  The sweater cost me £9 or $13.50 and I could have purchased a sweater from the thrift store for about a third of that.  BUT: it would not have been handmade; I would not have had the satisfaction of doing the making; I would not have gained the confidence to make such things myself if needed in the future.  I may not have won financially, but the other considerations make this a win in my book.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back from Berlin

We have returned to our boat after our week of babysitting our two fur grands Max and Chewie.  Speaking as a proud fur grandma they were very well behaved and gave grandma lots of cuddling.  My only complaint is that when two lab sized dogs (that is not their breed, though) decide to sleep with you in a twin bed it doesn't leave a lot of room for the human.  But, a small price to pay for love. 

We have moved down the canal to Lymm after returning to the boat yesterday early afternoon.  Today Mike is going to talk to some people at a marina about possibly painting the boat for us.  That leads me to the change of plans as to colors that necessity dictated. 

I really would like a cream and sage green boat but the vinyl covers for the cockpit and cratch are navy and since they would cost a couple of thousand to replace we have to live with them.  Hence a rethink on the color choices.  It probably comes as no surprise that we are leaning towards cream and navy with the cream being the dominant color.  We will let you know if it changes again, as it could.

I have given myself a gold star on the calendar because I came back yesterday to a bare fridge and  still managed to put a dinner on the table using shelf stable ingredients:  bean and mock meat tacos with vegan cheese sauce made with nutritional yeast.  I even made some of my grandma's half hour pudding for dessert.  I thought that definitely deserved a star.  I keep reminding Mike that my cooking skills save him $$$$ or ££££ as the case may be.  Such a modest woman am I.  :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Their Names Are On The Line

I have been watching more Youtube videos about Victorian and Edwardian rural life. I was reminded of how cooking used to be a matter of family recipes handed down through the years. There were no celebrity chefs or a stack of cookbooks, let alone an internet to search.

As I pondered I realized how many of my best, most trusted, can't fail recipes have the names of good cooks attached:

Grandma Young's Christmas Bread
Aunt Joan's Sugar Cookies
Aunt Bobbie's Peanut butter Fudge
Mrs Kolesar's French Pancakes
Minerva's Bread and Butter Pickles
Dot Burke's Concord Grape Pie
Aunt Evelyn's Zucchini Relish
Grandma Burdette's Potato Doughnuts
Aunt Joyce's Chicken Salad
Grandma O'Neill's Fig Pudding
Aunt Ellen's Homemade Kahluah

And the list goes on.

When you need to be sure trust the recipe with the name of a person attached.
They won't steer you  wrong.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

It IS A Very Small World!

On August 29, 2014 I wrote a post about harvesting firewood with a dad and his two sons.

Well yesterday, deplaning in Dusseldorf, who should be ahead of us but dad!

Almost a year later and in very different and unexpected circumstances, this lovely young man recognised us AND remembered our names!

We had a much too brief chat but then stairs and planes to catch separated us before we could really catch up.  Our hopes of seeing more of him in the airport were not to be.

But, I hope he knows he made our day.  I have returned to thoughts of him and his family many times and always with a smile.

Here's hoping we meet again for a longer chat.

Oh, and thanks for helping us stay warm this past winter.  Much appreciated.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Babysitting the Fur Grands

Today we are parking the boat and heading towards Manchester.  Tomorrow we will take a plane to Germany and end up in Berlin where DD1 is now posted. 

She has to travel back to the states for a wedding and we get to babysit the fur grands, Max and Chewie. 

They are sweet and lovable dogs.  And, although they are large animals, they think they are lap dogs so a lot of snuggling will be done. 

I am so looking forward to "having" a couple of pets for about a week. 

If you think some spoiling might occur, you could be right but I will never admit it to their mother.  Otherwise I may never get to sit again. 

What happens with grandma stays with grandma, right?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cross My Fingers and Hope

Today has been that kind of day.

I decided this morning to make a Minion hat.  I have never made a Minion hat before. 

But I worked on it for most of the day and now I have a respectable hat to show for it.

Is it perfect?  Nope.  But the little boy it is intended for won't notice or care.

Then I decided to start to crochet something for me.  In all the crocheting I have done this past year, and I have done a lot, I have only made one dishrag for me.  Now I am working on the foundation row of a shrug for myself.  Think good thoughts, please.

And this evening, while I am waiting for the pizza and french bread to finish, I decided to try making homemade maraschino cherries to use in Grandma's Christmas bread.  They are now sitting on my counter and all I have to do is wait.  Let us hope they are good.  But how bad can cherries, cherry brandy and amaretto be.

Did you know the cherries you buy in the store have been bleached and then the color and flavor have been restored using artificial everything.  Yuck!

So today I have done a lot of crossing my fingers and hoping or praying.  And I am OK with that.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Going Back to the Wartime Farm and the Wartime Kitchen and Garden

As I sit and crochet I have been enjoying two series of YouTube Videos related to the home front in Britain during WWII.  I have always been a history buff and as I grow older I have become more interested in how people coped during the difficult days of The Great Depression and WWII.  There are lessons to be learned here that we actually might be called upon to use during some of our darker financial days.

Although, even I can not see myself making a substitute mayonnaise using boiled potato, mustard, salt, vinegar and oil.  If I don't have the egg I think I would rather do without.  I know, heretical.  I also cannot see myself eating steamed nettles in place of other green leafy veg.  Or, the "black bread" made with silage as the raising agent instead of yeast.  Nope.  NOT going to happen.  Even I have limits with food experimentation.

But, I might try the slices of corned beef encased in stiff mashed potato and then covered with a white sauce and baked.  That actually sounds rather good and VERY filling.  I also might try the leek pudding which is basically seasoned chopped leeks encased in pastry and cooked until very golden brown.   Or the baked chocolate cake type pudding sweetened mainly with grated carrot and only a very small amount of the precious sugar ration.  Sounds yummy to me.

I was interested to see how people improvised needed machine parts from odd  bits and pieces; made toy airplanes out of tin cans; learned to make clay roof tiles to repair buildings when commercial tile was unavailable; wove baskets from willow locally harvested, and so much more.  This often required learning new skills never before contemplated but necessity gave them no other choice. 

I wonder if I would have the stamina, mental and physical, to get the job done today if required.  One can only hope. 

But, in the spirit of the thing, I am off to work on my mock meat for dinner:  mock Italian sausage patties made from barley flakes cooked in beef broth and seasoned with fennel, garlic, onion, thyme, sage and a pinch of cayenne.  It actually might work.

Beautiful Scenic Worsley

Located on the Bridgewater Canal less than 6 miles from Manchester, this picture perfect little village's reason to exist was that it originally was the entrance to the area's underground mines.  Believe me when I tell you that looking around at the park like setting one would be excused for believing that someone was trying to pull their leg with that story.

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However, if you stop to think of why the canal water in this section is the color of ochre from an artist's palette, you will find a clue to the past.  The water's unusual color is the result of the water having dissolved the iron ore found in the ground in this area.

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Worsley is acknowledged to be the location where the idea of a canal system originated, although it is not where the first canal ended up being built.  The third Duke of Bridgewater was said to have conceived the idea while touring his underground coal mines in 1753 and watching the coal being mined be moved by small boats through an underground system of waterways. 46 miles in total.  Once on the surface, however, the heavy coal had to be dragged to Manchester using teams of horses.  Observing this is said to have caused the Duke an Eureka! moment and the idea of surface canals to move the coal to Manchester was born, although the actual surface canal would not follow until 1765. l

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Leigh Branch

The Leigh Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool begins just outside of Wigan after taking a right turn.  And, after just two locks, you have the joy of the next forty miles being lock free!  Music to my ears, may I tell you.

However, to get through the last of those two locks required the shifting of a sleeper sofa so that we could get the gates to the lock open and the boats into said lock.  Having done that, we were good citizens and moved it out of the way of other boaters and using a piece of our rope tied the sofa to a small bollard so that it would not drift back into the center of the canal to bother future boaters.  We weren't scouts for nothing.

I will spare you with my thoughts on those who would deposit an old sleeper sofa into the canal in the first place.  Because, as is obvious, it did not find its way there on its own.  What creatures humans can sometimes be astounds me.

We are now moored at Plank Lane enjoying the scenic views of semi-rural England.

It is difficult to believe that this area was once a scarred landscape due to intensive mining.  It has now been rehabilitated into lovely meadows full of local wildlife.  It must have taken a great deal of time, effort and money but it was definitely worth the work and cost.

Another aftereffect of the mining has been the sinking or subsidence of the countryside caused by the "underpinnings" being mined out from beneath it.  The canal, today, sits above the surrounding countryside due to the need to build the canal up over the years using mine waste.  Otherwise,  I assume, the surrounding countryside would have been awash in canal water until the canal ran dry.  Lucky for us, that never happened.

How full of history is England, as well as how beautiful.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to Spend £26 in Under Two Hours

I have, once again, been charity shop shopping.  And today I spent a bit more than usual but I am quite pleased with what I found.

First, I found a pair of pjs and a nightgown for myself.  I will have need of these in September and the ones I have are to raggedy for polite public wear.

I also found 13 balls of yarn at 20 pence per ball.  Wow!  I am already scheming how to use them.

I have been looking for buttons ( to use in things I craft ) and have been striking out.  But today I found a box of them and purchased a total of  59 of different sizes and types for just under £9.  I am quite pleased considering the price of buttons new.

I also found two puzzles and 5 books for my grandchildren and a sleeper for the little girl.

I found a chrome cutlery organizer for £1 that I plan on using in the bathroom to organize makeup, creams and hair items.

I also found a picture frame that will be part of an upcoming wedding gift.  It was still wrapped in its protective plastic with the original price still on it.  My price was much better.

Lastly, I found 5 candles that will be used to make fire starters for the stove to be used next winter.

Not a bad haul.

Back at Wigan

We are now moored back in Wigan after a leisurely few days of cruising.

One day as we headed out the weather was soft:  a very light sprinkle with raindrops so small that they didn't make you feel wet.  Not a hardship to cruise in that.

Then the dark clouds rolled in, the rain picked up pace, and the foul weather gear came out.

When we got to a lock the rain was definitely coming down hard enough to get you wet, as evidenced by my jeans that were not being protected by the foul weather gear I had donned.

But Mother Nature quickly changed her mind and by the time the boat was through the lock the sun was beating down and the sky was a beautiful blue full of puffy, cotton ball clouds.

And it stayed that way for the rest of our cruising.

From here we will head towards Manchester.

We are hoping to find someone there to paint the boat for us.  It is currently two shades of blue with gold and yellow accents.  Traditional but too dark for my liking.

We are planning on cream and sage green with a beigey/browny/tan if a third color is needed.  In my mind, much more soothing and restful to the eye.

Today I have made an oat scone with dried fruit for breakfast and a corned beef and potato casserole is on the books for tonight's dinner.

But for now, I am on my way to the local charity shops for some retail therapy.  Who knows what might call my name.  Maybe even some more yarn since I have  already used 5 of the 11 purchased recently.  It would never do to run out.

Monday, August 10, 2015

From Dream to Reality

I am not sure why, but all night last night (or at least it seemed all night) I dreamed of baking bread. 

Not just any bread, but my super duper high fiber healthy bread that is lower in carbs and higher in protein. It us full of wheat bran, oat bran, flax meal, oats, soy flour, extra gluten so it will rise, and just a small amount of wheat flour to hold all the rest together.

I woke up several times during the night but each time I fell back to sleep I kept having the same dream.

Finally, at 6:00 I got up and started making the bread.  It seemed to be my destiny. 

Two loaves are now cooling, one for me and one for some friends we are currently traveling with.

Currently, I am finishing baking some banana bread to use up three super ripe bananas and some getting old kefir.  It smells lovely.  One loaf will again be ours and one will go to our friends.

I also made fried potatoes and onions with eggs and toast for breakfast.

It is only just after 11:00 and I feel like I have done a days work already.  I love feeling like things are being accomplished.

Later I will start a fresh batch of kefir, do some locks and swing bridges as we move down the canal, and make Mike's Mom's spinach salad with egg and bacon for dinner.

Sounds like a good day to me.  Wonder what I will dream about  tonight.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Charity Shop Score!

We stopped in Burscough Bridge for a few days and I just had to stop by the two local charity shops.  They are quite nice for such a small town and I highly recommend them if you are in the area.

I really found a treasure trove in the first one I went into:  11 skeins of yarn, one of which was 100% wool, for only £11!  I have been busy dreaming and planning and searching the internet trying to determine what I will create with them.  Such fun.

I also found two small casserole dishes.  They were white and matched our other dishes.  I will donate our larger casserole dishes.  Maybe now I will be forced to learn how to cook smaller portions.  I live in hope.

Mike and I also found 12 movie CDs for £2!  Some new to us evening entertainment.  Exciting.

And, I found some great books.

All for £16.

Life does not get much better.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Lily Pads, Moses Rushes and Long Legs

As we make our way out of Liverpool we are traveling through an area of canal full of rushes and lily pads.  In many places what you see is greenery across the canal as a whole with only a small path for the boats to travel through.

The lily pads are mainly of the small variety   Image result for lily pads images  with small yellow flowers.  They blanket the surface of the water and undulate slowly as you pass.

There are some of the larger variety  Image result for lily pads images  and they are also in bloom.  Mike likes these better.  Me, I like them both.

Image result for rushes along the canals images  ///The rushes that line the sides of the canal are home to the shy little moorhens that I love to watch.  Get too close and they scamper off into the rushes until they feel safe again.  If the lily pads are in the way they run right over them.  The adults with their long legs are fun to watch but the little ones look like furry blobs on toothpicks and they are cute as can be.  Enough to make you laugh out loud sometimes as they run for cover.

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Who needs a TV when nature provides programing like this.

A Cautionary Tale

I wanted to make homemade potato chips to go with the pizza I had made for dinner the other night.

A perfect time to try out the new  to me mandolin slicer I had recently purchased.

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While this is not exact, this is close to what I have.

Notice that little round disc.  That is there to come between you and the very sharp blade that slices things into very thin slices.  Slices perfect for potato chips or crisps as the British call them.

I was half way down the first of two potatoes when it happened.  I had curled my fingers around the round top part and since mine does not have that little edgy thing under the round disc I soon found myself in trouble.

Yep, you guessed it, I added a thin slice of my finger to the potatoes.

Boy did that sucker bleed.  No worry about infection there.

But eventually I got it bandaged in multiple layers to cushion and absorb.

And, I finished the potatoes and made the potato chips.  They tasted great by the way.

So, if you ever by a mandolin slicer watch how you place those fingers. :-)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Goodby to a Diverse and Wonderful City

The fact that Liverpool is a port city has contributed to its ethnically diverse population was drawn from a number of cultures, and religions.

Liverpool is home to Britain's oldest Black community, dating from at least the 1730s.  Some Black Liverpudlians are able to trace their ancestors in the city back ten generations. Early Black settlers included seamen, the children of traders sent to be educated, and former slaves, since slaves entering the country after 1722 became free men.

The city is also home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe.  Liverpool's first Chinese residents were 19th century seamen who jumped ship.  The gateway to Liverpool's Chinatown is the largest gateway outside of China.

The Irish Famine resulted in two million Irish people migrating to Liverpool in the space of one decade.  While many left for the US, many others never left the city of Liverpool.  By 1851, more than 20 per cent of the population of Liverpool was Irish. 

This diverse city is full of life, humor, irony, fun and a joy of just being alive.  Well worth a visit. 

The Merseybeat

In the 1960s Liverpool was the center of the "Merseybeat" sound which became synonymous with The Beatles and other Liverpudlian rock bands.

Designated as the World Capital City of Pop by Guinness World Records, Liverpool has  been home to such groups as The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers of "Ferry Cross the Mersey" fame.

Being the home of the Fab Four was, in itself, enough to mark Liverpool as a tourist destination for young and us not so young alike. 

Albert Dock is the home of The Beatles Story, an award winning display of  of all things Beatles. 

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  The information, images, memorabilia and interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison, Cynthia Lennon and Yoko Ono helps to bring the era alive.

One forgets that these four lads were actually lads in their teens when they first set out to make a name for themselves in music.  Fame had overtaken them by the time they were 20 or younger.  They were no more before they were 30.  They recorded for only eight years.  And yet, they are ageless and timeless and will live forever in history and memory.

The Super Lamb Banana

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 Buffalo has its bison, Erie has its frogs and Liverpool has its Super Lamb Banana.  This sculpture can be seen in its many incarnations throughout the city and in the city's many souvenir shops.

The Super Lamb Banana is  a cross between a banana and a lamb and was originally created by the Japanese artist Taro Chiezo to warn of the dangers of genetic engineering while symbolizing the playful spirit of Liverpool. .

The original has spawned many other interpretations, just a few of which are shown below.  They are now tourist attractions in their own right.
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